It started this morning, when I remembered I turned down the opportunity to get a pedicure with her. Suburban pedis are expensive, and I didn’t want her to spend her money treating me; what’s more, I didn’t want to shell out the bucks for one.
So, instead, I gave up two precious hours and killed time in Wal-Mart, like a fucking rookie. The audacity in thinking we have indefinite time!
This morning, I was engaged in hunting down legal documents, and the memory hit me like a reinforced cement wall. What was I thinking? I was worried about money? I wanted her to have some time away from me, when I’d been breathing down her neck for 24 hours? I can’t believe I was so incredibly blind and stupid.
There isn’t much else I feel guilt about; I’ve apologized to her for years for things I thought I could have done better or differently. Most of them were out of my control, which she reminded me over and over. She’s the first and best therapist I’ve ever had. As selfish as that is to say, I know she’d say that I wasn’t the only one to benefit from our long, sometimes fraught talks.
Chance sings “music is all we’ve got” on the first track of Coloring Book, and that, with snippets of Kanye’s “Roses” has been popping in and out of my mind the last few days. On Friday, I grabbed the attention of a friend with a knack for music and words and asked him to build me a playlist, using the latter as starting point. R&B, rap, anything. He gave me 8 songs, only two of which I was already familiar with, and it’s been cathartic without making me feel like I’m drowning.
I planned to write about all of this last night, on the deck, so I could look at the stars and enjoy the fresh, mild Midwest air while typing. And then a bat tumbled out from the umbrella in the middle of the table and we quickly scrapped that idea. Sitting in the house, at the dining room table, without the sound of her mumbling in her sleep, or up puttering about on some project, is probably the worst feeling in my world.
It’s hard for me to pick up the phone and talk when I don’t know how long I can fend off the tears, or if I even want to, but I want the comforting company of someone on the line. Maybe I just don’t want to talk about all of this. I’d rather talk about the vivacious grandma who always found some shenanigans to get into.
Steel Magnolias has also been playing on loop in my head — specifically the funeral scene.
M’Lynne says, “Oh god. I realize as a woman how lucky I am. I was there when that wonderful creature drifted into my life and I was there when she drifted out. It was the most precious moment of my life.”
How true is that? I realize I wasn’t there when she came into the world, but my grandma was there when I did. And to be here when she leaves — I’m overcome with sadness, but also feel unimaginably lucky to have been her granddaughter. The women in our family are not to be trifled with, a characteristic we definitely picked up from her by osmosis, as much as it is also in our DNA.
Last night, on the way home alone from the hospital, I channeled M’Lynne driving through the bayou to fetch Jack Jr from Aunt Fern’s, but in inky late-night. I lowered the window, turned on my brights, and let Taj Mahal, Stevie, Solange, and Zeppelin guide me through my running tears along the winding roads built out from the bluffs along the Mississippi.
So here we are. It’s about 1 am, May 31, and my uncle took off about an hour ago. He was here in the hospital last night, and I would be an asshat if I left him to stay another. Grandma’s sleeping deeply, but laboring over every breath. She’s restless in dreams and nightmares. She’s very cold and then so hot. She’s lucid and coherent and then asks, “are we done with the trommeny shoot?”
For every single sleepless night she had with me, the least I can give her is tonight, is right now.